2015-11-03 Both the UK and Italy will operate a mixed Eurofighter and F-35 fleet.
Both have operated the Tornado, which is reaching the end of its service life.
Both will sort through evolutions of the Eurofighter to encompass some of the mission sets for Tornado as the Tornado is retired and as the F-35 comes into the two fleets and provides the next surge for the re-working of air-led combat concepts of operations.
A key element of this transformation will be reworking the connectivity among air, sea and ground systems as well as shaping the weaponization approaches of joint and coalition forces.
In part, this is a Eurofighter transition whereby the radars are upgraded, and weapons added; in part this is the coming of the F-35 and its impact on reshaping air enabled combat operations.
And associated with this will be fundamental changes over time in C2, and the approach to strike operations.
The UK and Italy already fly together in operations through their use of Tornados and Eurofighters and have clearly shared combat learning with regard to the use of these platforms; as the F-35 comes on line this combat learning cycle will continue into the next generation of aircraft, and shaping ways to approach fifth generation warfare.
In effect, the dynamics of change for Italy and the UK will be a function of the intersection of four variables: the evolution of the Eurofighter; the impact of the F-35 and the global fleet of F-35s; changes in weaponization, and evolving C2 for strike and combat operations.
This report highlights a number of the dynamics of change in these two European combat forces associated with Eurofighter modernization. Much as the USN carrier air wing will alter its approach as F-35s come to the carrier deck, but modernize their Super Hornets to compliment and add lethality to the entire air wing, the RAF and the IAF will work interactive modernization of the two air platforms.
Continuing with the case of the USN carrier air wing, the dynamics of co-modernization can be better understood.
The new carriers – the USS Ford or the British Carrier the Queen Elizabeth – bring new command capabilities and operational infrastructure which enhance their contributions to other combat capabilities in the battlespace.
The coming of the F-35 puts on the carrier deck a core capability to operate at the edge of the carrier’s battlespace and can reach deep into the operational networks which support each cell of a honeycombed force.
The legacy assets will be modernized under the influence of synergy opportunities as well as fifth generation warfare dynamics to work more effectively in expanding the capabilities of a synergistic joint or coalition force.
Currently, the Super Hornets operating with the new Hawkeye are beginning to demonstrate the expanded reach of the carrier by delivering off boarding weapons capabilities, whereby one asset can direct the fire of another.
There is a clear analogy to what the British and Italians are in the process of doing as well, but this time with the Eurofighter instead of the Super Hornet. The excellent thrust to weight ratio of the aircraft makes it a solid platform going forward to expanding the payload/utility equation of the aircraft and its contribution to the performance of an air combat force.
According to Group Captain Paul Godfrey, the air boss of RAF Lossiemouth:
“The modernization of Typhoon is underway and we have seen real progress in terms of electronic warfare, sensors and integration, and improvements in the human machine interface which is going to make the cockpit more effective to operate the aircraft in the expanded battlespace with 5th gen assets.”
This report looks at the process of Eurofighter modernization highlighted by Group Captain Godfrey.
The photos in the slideshow highlight the operations of the Italian Air Force earlier this year during their engagement in the NATO Baltic air defense mission and the photos are credited to the Italian Air Force.